AEW will begin performing in front of crowds again later this month, the company announced Thursday.
The upstart wrestling promotion has been using the open-air Daily’s Place in Jacksonville as its television home base since the pandemic shut down touring. For the Aug. 27 television taping, a maximum of 10% of the venue’s seats will be filled. After that, the maximum capacity will be 15% (825 people).
Daily’s Place is a 5,500 seat amphitheater located adjacent to TIAA Bank Field, the home of the Jaguars. (Shad and Tony Khan, the owners of the Jaguars, also own AEW.) The venue has a roof but has retractable panels on the sides that allow it to be converted into an open-air setup.
The company says it will conduct temperature checks on all spectators and ask them a series of questions about symptoms and potential exposure to COVID-19. Seating will be spaced out in “physically distanced seating pods” available “in groups of two, three, four and six.”
Non-AEW employees have been present at recent tapings, but the company has not sold tickets to its events. Pro Wrestling Sheet’s Ryan Satin reported last week that about 150 “invited spectators” were present at a recent taping. Those spectators were seated away from the AEW employees who occupy the space around the ring. A fan present at the event said on Twitter that the venue had people monitoring and correcting attendees’ mask wearing.
As of Thursday, the state of Florida has seen nearly 10,000 reported COVID-19 deaths (including 402 in the Jacksonville area), the fifth most of any state in the nation. Over the past two weeks, Duval County, where Jacksonville is located, has seen over 2,700 positive COVID-19 tests, while the state of Florida has seen over 78,000.
“We’ve missed the incredible energy of our fans at shows, and from what we’ve heard from them, they’ve missed being with us. With our enhanced safety measures and outdoor venue, we look forward to welcoming our fans back to become part of the action in-person,” AEW president Tony Khan said in a statement.
“Please be assured, we are mindful and respectful of the situation. The health and safety of our AEW family and our fans remains our highest priority. Our leadership team and medical staff have adjusted our operations for limited, physically distanced fans in an outdoor, open-air setting in compliance with the most current state and local regulations and CDC guidelines. We can’t wait for the August 27 Dynamite, as the road to All Out will represent the beginning of a new chapter in AEW history.“